The success of Hellfest is undeniable, despite the controversies

Heavy metal fans attend a concert during the Hellfest Summer Open Air rock festival in Clisson (Loire-Atlantique), June 15, 2023.

The unusual scene recurs every year: thousands of black T-shirts line the vines of the Clisson estate (Loire-Atlantique), where Hellfest takes place, the festival dedicated to extreme music, which took place this year from Thursday June 15 to Sunday June 18.

After an exceptional double edition in 2022 qualified as the “concert of the century”, with a record attendance of 420,000 people, the Hellfest found for its sixteenth meeting a more “traditional” dimension, over four days, with all the same 200 groups programmed. Obviously less spectacular than last year (with Metallica closing), the success of the event is undeniable and the 200,000 tickets had been sold well before any guest artist was revealed; and this despite significant inflation of the four-day pass, which went from 289 to 339 euros.

The only real downside this year is the increasingly pressing criticism of the presence of a few controversial groups, condemned for acts of domestic violence (including Hollywood Vampires with Johnny Depp, and Motley Crüe with drummer Tommy Lee). As well as the irrelevant remarks made by the president of the festival, Ben Barbaud in the daily newspaper West France (dated June 9) on the issue of addressing gender-based and sexual violence.

Read also the report on the 2022 edition: Article reserved for our subscribers Hellfest: Metallica closes a daunting festival in style

To respond to these problems in the field, on the sidelines of the presence of 150 civil protection agents, the organization created in 2022 the “HellWatch”, a brigade of fifty-four volunteers (compared to thirty for the previous edition) deployed on the site and the campsite to prevent abuse and collect testimonies from possible victims. Two prevention stands have also been set up. “People are very considerate and attentive, I did not expect such a welcome, says a member of HellWatch. We have been known since last year, many even come to us spontaneously. » If the atmosphere is reputed to be benevolent among the “metalheads”, the many returns confirm that the public considers that this initiative is beneficial, and that it should be perpetuated.

Young French talents

Hellfest wouldn’t be what it is without its share of novelties. The latest attraction is the expansion of the Valley, one of the venue’s six stages dedicated primarily to stoner and psychedelic rock genres. Moved in front of the Warzone, thanks to a one-hectare extension of land, it was on this same stage decorated with battle and rust, that The Obsessed performed on Saturday, an American band led by guitarist singer Scott ” Wino” Weinrich.

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